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Special Issue "The Opportunities and Roles of Experimentation in Addressing Climate Change"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Rafael Reuveny

School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), Indiana University, East 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: international political economy with emphasis on globalization; rise and fall of major powers; political conflict and how it interacts with international trade, democracy, and the environment; sustainable development; Middle East political economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

On 9 July, 2017, the widely-read New York Magazine published an article depicting a pessimistic scenario of what might happen in the near-future due to global warming. This will be bad, the article said, including famines, lasting economic collapse, a sun that cooks us, climate refugees, spread of ancient diseases now buried in the permafrost, Arctic, and Antarctic, rolling smog that suffocates people, poisoned oceans, drowning coastal cities and infrastructure, and war. The story was immediately criticized; the piece is alarmist and pessimistic, many said (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Uninhabitable_Earth).

The point for this Special Issue is not if the New York Magazine got it right. In truth, there is surely a risk that it got it right, but we still do not know how big it is. The story shows that fears about climate change are now in the public and psychic domain—the magazine, of course, would not have chosen this topic had it not been on people's mind.

Thus, what is the point of this Special Issue? I believe there is a lot that we can learn about the possibility of a better future by taking an experimental approach. We cannot experiment with climate change in the laboratory of societies, but we can look for hints, try things on a smaller scale, and then evaluate the results as a way of beginning to say something about how the future of our children and their children might turn out.

The Special Issue is interested in experiments that might shed light on processes that support sustainability of environments and the people they carry. They could include attempts to prove beneficial principles, trials in limited locality and time that might work in larger contexts, producing something in a new way, or something new, that enhances sustainability, cleaner production, energy sources or transportation methods with lower carbon footprints, deriving consumption value from a smaller ecological footprint, defense mechanisms against impacts of climate change, adapting to climate change on a smaller scale, demonstrating technological feasibility to enhance sustainability in precarious environments, and so on.

This Special Issue could also include new ways of governance and management for sustainability of natural resources, for dealing with impacts of climate change, and new technologies to support these ways. Can green accounting save the day based on pilot projects? Can tougher regulation and enforcement work? Should we give more say to civic organizations? Can mandatory recycling do it? Are such methods of government and management already implemented? Where and what can we learn from it? Can such projects be scaled up for larger communities?

To stress, this Special Issue is interested in what has been done, not what could be done. We want to evaluate the potential of what has been done to do good in larger setups. We are interested in results, outcomes, methods that are now tried in the field, things that can have impact on sustainability facing climate change. We also interested in things that did not work, experiments that failed or had unintended bad consequences, that did more harm than good, so that we would know what to avoid.

Naturally, we are interested in those large scale natural experiments that occurred on their own, both those that led to success in environmental and therefore social sustainability of large communities, and those that did not, which brings us back to where we started, to the New Magazine Outlook.

Is it possible to fail? Is it possible that we are doomed unless we do something drastic now? Did some societies fail to sustain themselves despite their best efforts? Where are they today? Why did they fail? Were climatic changes at play? Did their activities doom them by destroying their environments? Was shortsightedness at play? Was ignorance at play? Are we like them?

We propose this Special Issue from a point of strength: Not all is lost. That there are things we can do even if the U.S. would continue to reject global attempts to fight climate change such as the 2015 Paris Protocol or the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. There are ideas that might save us, this Special Issue posit, even in the worst-case scenario. However, for that we must first get to know about them, and learn from their performance; enter this Special Issue.

Prof. Dr. Rafael Reuveny
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • experiments to address climate change impacts
  • socioeconomic-environmental sustainability
  • real-world projects
  • technological projects,
  • governance and management projects
  • evaluating experiments
  • spreading and upscaling insights
  • societal natural experiments: success/collapse

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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